The Dentist

I was hoping that they would email me photos of my experience on Monday, but alas. [Edited to add: they emailed one and I posted the tooth photo here.]

So, Monday I went to my snow-delayed dental appointment. I mentioned to the hygenist that a tooth on the front right of my mouth was giving me some discomfort as I bit down, but I wasn’t sure which one it was. When she took the x-rays and photos it was so obvious that even I could see it. I had a cracked filling. Oh! Of course that’s why it was owie. Thank heavens, I thought, that I came in so soon after it started giving me trouble. She then complimented me on how well I’d been keeping my teeth clean during the time I’d been away. I was feeling pretty good about my oral hygene.

Until the dentist came in. She took one look at the x-ray and said, “You’re a sneeze away from needing a root canal. We need to get you in to have that repaired ASAP.” She went on to explain that the dark shadow above the filling was decay. The size of the decay meant that the filling had probably cracked shortly after I arrived in Iceland–a year ago. Yeah. Further, the decay was so close to the root, that it was questionable if she would be able to fill it without hitting the pulp. You know, the place where the nerve is.


So, I’m preparing myself to come in later that week, when she announces that she can see me that day. In fact, only half an hour after my current appointment ends. She seriously meant ASAP.

The procedure was everything one loves about going to the dentist. The rubber bite block, the green rubber dam stretched across my mouth. The drill.

So they get me all settled in, numbed and with the instructions to raise my left hand if I need them to stop for any reason. My dentist is very good and knows that I’m curious about things, so she stopped periodically to let me have a look with the mirror. I got to see the inside of my tooth as she paused in drilling. This is where we are sad that they couldn’t export the dental photos from their proprietary software. She kept saying, “I think we’re going to get away with this. I think you’re about to be lucky and we’ll save this tooth.”

Then she hit the pulp.

It’s the only time I’ve ever raised my left hand at the dentist. Even numbed, the sensation was so sharp, so direct-to-the-brain vivid that it’s hard to even describe as pain. It was simply something that had to stop.

They got the bleeding to stop–didn’t show me that part, which I’m fine with–and put the new composite filling in. My dentist said that the composite bonds better with the enamel and she’s hoping that if she can get an airtight seal that everything will hold. We’re hoping that I won’t need a root canal.

Did you know you can support Mary Robinette on Patreon!

5 thoughts on “The Dentist”

  1. Ow! At least when I had my wisdom teeth done in June, they gave me drugs afterwards. Hang in there and kudos for getting it over with.

  2. I go to the dentist Friday to have a crown on one of my wisdom teeth removed to see why it catches the floss and shreds it. He also thinks there is some decay under it. I’m hoping that they don’t have to do anything drastic. You are lucky to have a dentist that uses the rubber dam. I had a dentist in Raleigh that used them, but no one here uses them.

  3. Having my wisdom teeth done wasn’t so bad. They put me under for that and I was extremely lucky and had a pain-free recovery–didn’t even need the drugs they gave me.

    This was somewhat less pleasant.

    -d- Have you tried asking about the rubber dam? It may be an optional thing.

  4. Ack. Glad it wasn’t too bad, Mary! I’m (reluctantly!) an expert on root canals, having had six, two of which needed redoing since I have unusually complex roots. One of the redos was during week 3 of Clarion West, and I have te distiction of being the only CW grad ever to have a root canal AND go to a funeral in the six weeks of CW! Anyway, the redos are the worst. If you do end up having a RC, INSIST they give you a presicription for serious drugs…. OTC don’t cut it.


Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top